Each Tuesday, FADER editor Matthew Schnipper highlights an underappreciated recent release he thinks we need to know about. This week it’s Free Energy’s "Free Energy" 7-inch. Download the song and read Schnipper’s thoughts on it after the jump.
Sitting beside a giant fire two days ago, my friend Kevin and I decided it was time to eat some veggie dogs. I couldn’t open the package with my teeth, so I cut it with an axe. I do not remember if this was before or after I failed to slice all the way through a quarter of a log I was splitting for no practical purpose, causing some of its hard bark to fling back at me and take off a chunk of the skin on the knuckle of my right pointer finger. It bled but not too much, so I just wrapped it in my shirttail. Washing the wound this morning, I had trouble getting out most of the blue threads embedded in my body’s healing juices.
I went to a town in the Catskills I think is called Greene, but I can find no evidence of it existing. I was near Hunter and Prattsville, somewhere between two and a half to three hours from the city, depending on if you took Harlem River Drive or the Palisades Parkway, and if there was traffic or not. We made great time, there and back. For each route of the trip I made a different mix, Summer Jams and Bummer Jams, to mark the weekend the end of summer freedom. I was tired Friday evening, full of cheese and stuffed in the back seat after climbing through the window because the power doors wouldn’t open. Summer jams came on and, it turns out, were not very summery. Drake’s “Successful” is not summery, Trey Songz panting his unfulfilled desires. Adrian Orange, with his faux-Afrobeat orchestra and pre-puberty voice is not summery, in fact is a little creepy. Someone asked who sings “In the Morning” and before I woke up enough to say “Fuzzy Logic,” someone else said “C+C Music Factory.” I—and the music—deserved that. The weekend was not predicated by my improperly calculated summer themes, though maybe the summer itself was. It’s been weird. It’s been rainy, too. I thought, not really, but maybe, in the neurotic, unfortunate way that I know some of you (my sister) must understand that however bizarre the summer was, that it might be my last season, when I was standing on the second tier of a Kaaterskill Falls yesterday. It’s a steep hike up, unsettled rocks and narrow footpaths. If someone asked you to walk the crack in the sidewalk for endless yards, undoubtedly you could. But if they removed any of the concrete buffers surrounding your straight path, it would be a more treacherous stroll. This hopefully not inevitable death is unfortunately what I thought about rounding the fall’s curve. Sliding on my ass down to the fall’s terminal pool, I didn’t think about anything. Looking over the end of the falls, then forgetting to check my foot path as I checked my friend for leeches, I thought that it was good I don’t have a wide stance. For the first time, some joy in a lack of height. I had not planned on a strenuous hike, and my sneakers and bathing suit are the deep maroon of mountain rocks. I was not wearing socks, but if I was, they would be too.
I brought my portable record player to the house in the woods, listened to it while burning beer cans and playing scrabble. I tried to bring woods music, fall music, which turned out to be three Neil Young records, Black Sabbath Vol 4 and John Fahey. John Fahey didn’t go over well, even though the record is called America. I thought it was a shoo-in. Just before we left, in Brooklyn, we ate brie and brussel sprouts and the restaurant played Graceland. It reminded us we should bring that record. There were three things to remember already decided: Scrabble, my deodorant and the sparklers my friend gave me for my birthday. We forgot about the sparklers but made ourselves think Graceland was the third thing to remember. Paul Simon didn’t make it through one song before I got up from the fire to turn it off. Beer cans, when they burn in the fire, lose their color first and then crumple much slower than I thought.
I didn’t sleep as well in the woods as I would have liked, though I did take a lot of naps. I didn’t sleep sitting in the shallow water by Mosquito Point Bridge, though the sound was very white noise and conducive. I did pee off a big rock. The whole time I sat on it I thought someone had tagged the rock “Juicy,” but when I got up to pee I saw it said “Lucy.” I made everyone take rocks from the water to remember the day. I dropped one walking up the hill back to the car but someone went and fished out another.
We drove back last night in the dark and only got lost once, which is pretty good. It wasn’t even lost, just an easy wrong turn that got us to a cul-de-sac. We righted ourselves no problem. We put the Bummer Jams CD on and it was much more appropriate. Smog is what you should listen to at night in the dark two days after the full moon when you are tired and hungry but not altogether unhappy, just in between your fake life and real one, driving down a two-lane highway, past a roadhouse bar that you can’t decide if it’s a good idea to stop in. We kept going. Free Energy had the last song on the CD. It’s not that I specifically thought they were a bummer, but there’s a wistfulness there, not necessarily a blonde hair and blue eyed babe wistfulness, either. There’s a nine-to-five, whistleblower, blow off steam, glam rock as metaphor for life, puff out of excess strength whistfulness. Free Energy doesn’t have any more to give than they already gave. But that mumbo jumbo got called out. “This isn’t really a bummer,” they said and they were right. It feels good. Then we listened to the first Weezer album again.